Rodeo rolls into town

THE rodeo is coming to town – and it’s all thanks to a couple of cheeky horses that were rescued from certain death.

Albany businessman Tom Kennedy saved Molly and Junior at the eleventh hour and says the love of horses sparked memories of the rodeos he used to attend at Manypeaks as a kid.

From there the idea was born to bring the rodeo back for people in the Great Southern.

The planning is complete and preparation is now well underway for the inaugural Kalgan Stampede in January next year, with earthworks already progressing at the Kalgan River Chalets and Caravan Park site on Nanarup Road, where the event will be held over three days from January 12.

“I used to go to the rodeo in the 70s and 80s as a kid,” Mr Kennedy said.

“I’m hoping that the Kalgan Stampede will continue the tradition of the Manypeaks Rodeo from 30 years ago.

“I started the process around December last year when the caravan park said we could hold the event there.

“They’ve been great with allowing us the space we need for people to camp and to keep their animals.

“We’ve also been working closely with the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association, which is the governing body for rodeo in the country.

“They’ve helped us with the venue and how to actually run the event.

“At the end of the day when everyone rocks up, we really need to look like we know what we’re doing.”

Mr Kennedy admitted that it has been hard to organise such a big event; however, he praised the help many local businesses had been contributing.

“The City of Albany has been great. They really want to bring the Stampede to fruition,” he said.

“I’m hoping to do enough that it will get people to want to come back the next year and be able to make the next year a longer event.

“I want to do something different than the standard rodeo.”

For more information on the Kalgan Stampede, you can visit their website or Facebook page.

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Leavers binge on freedom

THE buzz of excitement, relief and nerves was bouncing between a group of young high school graduates on Saturday as they met at Middleton Beach to work out the finer details of their travelling convoy.

Yes, they were finally free and were about to embark on, for some, their first solo trip away from home without their parents.

Leavers has become a rite of passage for year 12 graduates as a way of unwinding after more than a decade of textbooks and timetables.

Scott Fielding, Jaike Dale, Lily Willock, Tyron Smallwood, Zhane Robertson, Ethan Williams, Tom Edwards and Courtney Hall were no exception to this rule.

The close-knit crew, some having known each other since before they could spell their names, were off to Dunsborough or Bremer Bay for a week of adventuring, partying, and some much-needed chill-out time.

The initial planning of ‘where’ for Leavers was relatively simple, the group agreed, but it was the multitude of rules tied to accommodation that had to be ploughed through before booking.

Camp sites often charge hefty bonds to the young leavers to cover potential damages that can happen after a few wild nights out, as well as prohibit certain activities and items being brought onto the premises.

The group of graduates collectively mulled over their parents’ warnings about binge drinking, safe sex and drink-driving, and all agreed the advice was necessary to make sure everyone had a good time and stayed safe.

Police presence is generally ramped up for Leavers hot-spots, including Dunsborough and Rottnest Island, and for some, this can seem like a dampener on the party mood.

However, this band of school buddies thought it was a good idea for police to hang around, to keep the peace and make sure things didn’t get out of hand.

With their cars loaded with swags, hats, camping chairs and the odd carton, the graduates headed off into the rising sun on Sunday to kick off their week away.

Today marks day four of Leavers, with many kids planning on making the trek home tomorrow or Saturday.

With their brains de-fried from school and their shoulders slack from the lack of stress, these new members of the adult society will soon be ready to conquer the workforce and the world.

Perhaps just give them a few days of recovery first.

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‘A mighty Wagyl breathes here’

A NOONGAR Elder has warned that a five-star resort at Goode Beach would upset a mighty Wagyl she says comes up for air right there.

Local Noongar Elder Lynette Knapp said the project should not proceed as planned at the Lot 660 site that abuts Lake Vancouver, known to generations of her people as Naaranyirrap.

“Naaran is when you cup the water in your hands and you drink it,” she said of the lake’s pre-European name.

“That’s pure, fresh water there.

“You can’t build around it. You can’t clear around it.”

This coming Tuesday, Albany city councillors were scheduled to vote on whether a structure plan for the resort should be endorsed for approval by the WA Planning Commission.

However, as revealed in today’s Weekender, that vote will now not likely occur until February, after proponents took their plans off the table to address concerns raised by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Ms Knapp said it was imperative that developers stopped building around pristine waterways such as Naaranyirrap.

“Aboriginal waterways are not just the swamp that you see there,” she said of the lake.

“It goes underground and comes up.

“It’s being fed with underground passageways, water coming through from somewhere else, and to the east of here, Limeburners Creek is continually running out with water, so it actually pushes right through and there’s a stream to the south-east of here that’s fed by these underground things.”

That stream is the heritage-listed Vancouver Spring, which, like the lake and planned ‘Vancouver Beach Resort’, are named after Captain George Vancouver, who in 1791 was among the first non-Indigenous people to sip from the spring.

“If you’re going to build around the lake, we believe that under the ground there’s a mighty serpent,” Ms Knapp said.

“A mighty Wagyl created all those passageways, and all these swamps are where he comes up to take a breath, and then he goes under and travels to the next air hole.

“It’s important not to build around those swamps because those underground waterways are going to be crushed and made to go dry, and the old spirits won’t be too happy.”

Ms Knapp said her family, and many other Noongar people around Albany, had a 70,000-year connection to the peninsula.

“We depend on that Wagyl to keep our fresh water going,” she said.

“There is an underground world down there.”

And it’s not just the serpent-like Wagyl beneath the ground that Ms Knapp said tourists staying at the lake would need to heed.

“Look out for tiger snakes, they’re everywhere down here,” she warned of the striped serpents that wind around upon the ground at Naaranyirrap.

“They’re our keepers of the wetland system and part of some people’s totems.”

She said a planned access road running along the west side of Naaranyirrap was “not good at all”.

“If they’re going to be building around the lake, they’re just gonna mess it up,” she said.

Ms Knapp’s alternative vision for tourism in the area is a panoramic one that takes in the whole Vancouver Peninsula, on which Naaranyirrap is the only freshwater lake.

“My dream is to have it used for Aboriginal cultural tourism, because at the moment we have over 200 sites that are registered on the place and it’s a place that’s currently open to everything and everybody to drive their vehicles,” she said.

“It could be a Mecca for Aboriginal tourism – lizard traps, gravesites, everything.

“We need to teach people that our culture is worth staying here for and coming out on to country and learning from Elders, or people that know the country where the Elders have passed it down, instead of going to Bali or elsewhere.”

Her plan for the peninsula does not exclude luxury accommodation, which she said would be “awesome” if sensitively built at the former Frenchman Bay Caravan Park.

“That’s the place they need to go,” she said of an idea recently floated by the Frenchman Bay Association (The Weekender, October 19).

“Just leave our bush alone.”

She said that removing the defunct van park’s exotic tree species and rundown infrastructure, returning indigenous plants, and developing the site as a genuine eco-resort, would help restore much of its pre-European splendour.

A submission by Goode Beach resident and eminent University of Western Australia biologist Stephen Hopper said the area might contain a Noongar camp site.

“The recent discovery of a mussel shell midden about 400m north of Lot 660 on the primary dune overlooking King George Sound is indicative of the potential of the site to contain archaeological material of significance,” Professor Hopper, who is working with Ms Knapp and other Elders to document cultural and biological aspects of the peninsula, wrote.

A submission by the Frenchman Bay Association said a thorough archaeological survey of Lot 660 would be essential before any clearing and earthworks were undertaken.

“The Frenchman Bay Association is of the view that the appropriate course of action would be for the Aboriginal community to be involved in the consultation process,” FBA president Tony Kinlay told The Weekender.

Ms Knapp stressed that other Noongar families had stories about the peninsula that differed in parts to hers, but which were equally valid.

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Goode Beach plans pulled

PLANS for a five-star resort at Goode Beach, due to be considered by Albany city councillors on Tuesday, have been pulled so the applicant can respond to concerns raised by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

The city’s Executive Director Development Services, Paul Camins, confirmed councillors would now not likely get to vote on a draft structure plan for the 51-unit complex until February.

“A submission from DFES was recently received by the city and the proponent,” Mr Camins explained.

“The matters raised in the submission require further consideration.

“The proponents need to look at the matters raised and respond to the City of Albany accordingly.”

The city declined to provide details of DFES’ submission, and efforts by DFES staff to locate the precise source of that agency’s submission drew a blank this week.

The luxury resort – contentious for its proximity to Lake Vancouver, fragile dunes, and the residential subdivision at Goode Beach – is planned for a scrubby plot on La Perouse Court.

The structure plan was set to be considered by Albany councillors on November 28, ahead of referral to the Western Australian Planning Commission.

If the commission eventually approves the plan, detailed development plans will then need to be considered by the Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel.

In further Goode Beach news, The Weekender also reports warnings by a local Noongar Elder that a resort could disturb a mighty Wagyl she says still lives and breathes at Lake Vancouver.

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Walpole landowner not a happy camper

A WALPOLE landowner will be banned from camping more than three nights a month on his 1407sqm block if the recommendation of a shire official is approved by Manjimup councillors tonight.

Perth-based Graham Raper, 56, has owned his block in Boronia Ridge Estate, on Walpole’s western outskirts, for more than a decade.

He has strong family ties through the shire, including a cousin, Manjimup councillor Lyn Daubney, who he has listed as one of 14 potential campers on the property.

“It’s been the Australian way for a long time,” Mr Raper said of building a holiday house in stages.

“It’s not like I go down there and disturb neighbours.

“I basically keep to myself.”

After someone complained to the shire in April that he was camping in his shed on the Howe Street block, Mr Raper applied to camp on the block for periods up to three months in any given year.

He says he camps in a caravan, not his shed as alleged by the complainant, and has a separate ablution block with toilet, shower and hand basin connected to Walpole’s deep sewerage system.

Nevertheless, Shire Principal Environmental Health Officer Evon Smith has recommended Mr Raper’s application be refused.

Mr Smith has told shire councillors the residential block is not suitable for camping, and approving Mr Raper’s application would set an undesirable precedent.

Despite Mr Raper’s submission to the contrary, Mr Smith advises there is no record of the ablution block ever being connected to sewerage.

“I am connected to the deep sewerage system, so his doubts are wrong,” Mr Raper told The Weekender.

“It was installed by Walpole Plumbing, an approved plumber in the area, so I fail to see that.”

He said he was semi-retired at one stage when he spent more time in Walpole, but was now back at work, presently in Port Hedland.

“The camping just gives me the time when I’m down there to be able to make the property fire ready, and tidy the block up and maintain the buildings,” he explained.

He said he would build a house on the block when he got the money.

“At this stage, I only go down a couple of times a year, and most of it’s to get the property ready to put a dwelling on it,” he said.

Under state legislation, a shire may allow landholders to camp on their blocks more than three nights a month, provided the land is not camped on more than three months a year.

And the shire must be satisfied the land is suitable for camping, with specific reference to safety, health and access to services.

A Manjimup shire policy says that using a caravan to camp on land for up to 12 months can be approved, but only while a building approval is current, which is not the case for Mr Raper.

The shire asked owners of neighbouring blocks about their views on his camping plans, and nobody objected.

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Smooth ride into town

A 2.5km, $1.2 million missing link in the cycle network from Little Grove to the Albany Town Hall is about to be added to Albany’s expanding chain of cycle paths.

Stage one of the two-stage Mount Elphinstone-to-CBD bike path is out for tender, and senior city engineer Andrew Greenwood said construction is slated to start in January.

“The project will run from Collie Street, just behind the Town Square,” he told The Weekender.

“The path along Frenchman Bay Road is quite a popular tourist recreation path, but at the moment there’s no link through to the city.

“Because of the railway and the road trains on Princess Royal Drive it’s a route that is not popular for cycling, apart from hardened cyclists.”

Stage one of the new bicycle/ pedestrian path will run from Town Square, along the northern side of Grey Street West, to the top of Carlisle Street, a distance of 1.2km.

Budgeted at $590,000, stage one is scheduled for completion in April.

Stage two, which will join the existing Frenchman Bay Road cycle path that stretches to Little Grove, is budgeted to occur next financial year at a similar cost.

The city’s TravelSmart officer, Julie Passmore, said the new route would give commuters and recreational cyclists more options for getting to the city safely.

“It gives the opportunity to be separated from traffic, and for people with children it’s safer, definitely,” she said.

“Surveys that we’ve done have shown cycling is growing in popularity and we’re definitely getting more people arriving to city events by bike.

“We’re seeing a steady growth in people commuting, and a growing positivity about cycling here from visitors as well as residents.”

Contractors interested in tendering for the job had best get on their bikes.

Tenders close at 2pm on November 29.

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Communication breakdown

THE City of Albany has refuted assertions by Torbay residents that they were not told about a prescribed burn that raged out of control and became a serious danger to homes and the heritage-listed Torbay Hall on Thursday.

The blaze was supposed to be a small prescribed burn near Lower Denmark Road, but quickly escaped the burn area.

Emergency services were called to douse the blaze.

The fire ripped through 40 hectares of bushland and stopped 50m short of the hall.

Chair of the Torbay Hall Management Committee Rosemary King said her property was within 1km of where the prescribed burn was arranged.

Ms King said she saw flames jump across Lower Denmark Road, and initiated a chain of phone calls to her neighbours when she saw the fire had raged out of control.

She is part of the city’s text message scheme that is meant to alert residents of any local emergencies.

But she said she did not receive a text message about the prescribed burn, nor about it burning out of control.

Vicki Read, a Torbay local for 15 years, said she also lived within 1km of the burn.

She evacuated her property soon after Ms King rang her with the emergency warning.

“It’s just such a lack of communication,” Ms Read said of the city’s alert process.

“It’s pretty much what we live with.

She said that about 12.30pm she was reassured the burn was okay.

“But I checked again at 1.30pm, and then at 2pm they pulled into my driveway saying the fire was out of control,” she said.

Ms Read said she was disappointed and shaken as a result of what she viewed as the city’s poor communication with Torbay residents.

She said it was lucky she had a bushfire plan that worked very well.

She said the only correspondence she received was a letter two-and-a- half years ago stating a prescribed burn was to be arranged for the bush surrounding the Torbay Hall.

City of Albany Acting Manager City Reserves Jacqui Freeman said nearby residents were informed of the burn.

“The appropriate consultation was undertaken,” she said.

“Residents at the other side of town might not have been notified because they were in a distance further away from the risk zone.

“We do advertising, put it on the Facebook page and we do letterbox drops and door-knocking to those residents who are close by.”

Ms Freeman said because the planned burn was small, consultation only occurred with property owners in the immediate vicinity.

“We’re pretty diligent in letting people know,” she said.

“What we do is we assess conditions, and if they are suitable, we can undertake the burn.”

She said the burn at Lower Denmark Road had been next on the list of priority burns slated to be undertaken in the area.

“We’re burning that area in preparation for burning some smaller patches closer to the townsite to protect the townsite,” she said.

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It’s a ‘YES’ from O’Connor

ALBANY Gay and Lesbian group members are celebrating results released yesterday from the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, although the O’Connor electoral division in which they live recorded the lowest ‘yes’ result in the state.

O’Connor, a federal division that includes the Great Southern and Goldfields regions and much of the Southwest, recorded a 56.2 per cent ‘yes’ result.

The next lowest result was 59.2 per cent in the adjoining division of Durack.

AGAL member Millie Reid said when she heard a ‘yes’ result had been recorded in all states and territories she could not stop crying.

“I felt such overwhelming relief,” she said. “I’m thrilled with the resounding ‘yes’ result.

“Now we just need politicians to do the right thing, and legislate this in a fair way.”

Ms Reid’s fiancée Kylie Douglas was so happy she wanted to start planning the couple’s wedding immediately.

“I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the ‘yes’ vote,” Ms Douglas said.

“It feels so validating.

“The past three months have been horrendous, waiting for the result and not knowing who was with you and who was against you.”

Overall, Western Australia recorded a 63.7 per cent ‘yes’ result, the third highest in the nation behind the ACT (74 per cent) and Victoria (64.9 per cent).

Ms Douglas said federal politicians should now stop stalling and legislate to make same sex marriage a reality.

“Just get it done now,” she said.

“It’s just an unbelievable relief and we are so excited.

“It’s good to feel less alone.”

Another AGAL member, Sarah Schouten, said she was relieved and happy about the national result.

“The politicians don’t need to waste any more time,” she said.

“If they don’t know how to vote, then they need to just listen to the public.”

O’Connor also recorded the highest ‘no’ vote in the state – 43.8 per cent, compared to the next highest ‘no’ result of 43.0 per cent in the Division of Burt in Perth’s outer eastern suburbs.

Nationally, 79.5 per cent of eligible Australians completed the survey, which Australian statistician David Kalisch said was “very high” for a voluntary poll.

Bills will now be presented to Federal Parliament for a parliamentary vote on amending Australia’s marriage laws.

The Turnbull government has pushed for a vote before Christmas.

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Great Southern NBN ready

HERE is a simple guide on how to make the switch to the National Broadband Network – NBN.

1: Check availability.

Check to see if NBN is available in your area by searching your address on the NBN website, nbnco.

2: Prepare to switch.

NBN involves new technologies, and some existing devices in your home or business may not be compatible with the new service.

Contact your provider and give details the following relevant technologies to see if they are NBN compatible: your current modem and landline telephone, medical alarms, autodiallers, emergency call buttons, monitored fire alarms, home or business security monitoring systems, lift emergency phones, EFTPOS or health claim terminals, and fax and teletypewriter devices.

Switching may not be straightforward in some circumstances, such as in new developments or granny flats, so consider whether trenching or additional cabling may be necessary.

Further information about this can be found here:

3: Choose a provider and order a plan.

NBN connection is not automatic.

Contact your preferred internet or phone provider to discuss your requirements and select the plan appropriate for you.

Consider the speed tiers available in your area (how fast your internet will be) and what speeds you can actually expect, when discussing a plan with your provider.

A list of providers can be found here:

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Help to make the switch

A NEW regional community relations team committed to aiding customer experience with the new National Broadband Network was launched on Tuesday at the Great Southern Development Commission.

NBN Local is the most recent initiative in telecommunication customer service for the network rollout that has been plagued by service delivery issues around the country.

Part of its focus will be educating Great Southern residents and businesses about the status of NBN network access and the available connection options.

“With the NBN rollout nearing completion in the Great Southern region, I will be working with local stakeholders and community groups to ensure any local problems are identified early and addressed,” Head of NBN Local WA Rachael McIntyre said.

“Along with other NBN representatives, I will continue attending events in the region to provide an update on the rollout of the NBN access network, as well as ensure residents and businesses are aware of what they need to do to connect and what choices they have when switching over.”

More than 22,450 homes and businesses across the Great Southern can now switch to NBN plans.

Once the NBN network goes live in a particular area, residents and businesses have an 18-month window to contact their preferred phone or internet provider and make the switch.

“After this time, the NBN broadband access network will replace most existing landline phone and internet services and the copper network will be decommissioned,” Ms McIntyre said.

“Even if people only have a home phone, they will still need to move to an NBN-powered plan.”

NBN representatives will be available to discuss the new network with customers at this weekend’s Albany Agricultural Show.

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